Congress established the LDRD Program at the DOE national laboratories in 1991 to foster excellence in science and technology and to ensure the laboratories are technically vital and prepared to meet today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges.
LDRD achieves this by supporting high-risk, potentially high-payoff research and development projects. At LLNL, this program provides the most significant resource for discretionary scientific and technical investments.
According to DOE Order 413.2C, the LDRD Program serves to
- support the missions, strategic vision, and core competencies of the DOE/NNSA and Livermore;
- maintain the Laboratory’s science, technology, and engineering vitality;
- attract and retain the most qualified scientists and engineers and allow scientific and technical staff to enhance their skills and expertise;
- pursue collaborations with academia, industry, and other government laboratories;
- generate intellectual property; and
- strengthen the U.S. economy.
Myriad LDRD projects over the years have made key contributions in every facet of the Laboratory’s energy and security missions. By enabling Livermore to fund creative mission-oriented activities in fundamental and applied research, the LDRD Program has fortified the Laboratory’s intellectual foundations and status as a premier research institution. The present scientific and technical strengths of Livermore are, in large part, a product of LDRD investment choices.
Because LDRD funds leading-edge research, the Program helps recruit, train, and mentor top talent in new and emerging fields; for example, the LDRD Program generally supports about 50% of the Laboratory’s postdoctoral researchers, many of whom become career employees who are internationally respected in their fields (see Awards and Recognition).
The value of LDRD to DOE and the nation has been clearly articulated at the federal level. According to a National Academy of Sciences report to DOE in 2012, “A crucial part of the laboratories’ ability to conduct their missions is derived from Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD), the primary source for internally directed R&D funding. Among its other benefits, LDRD provides a major resource for supporting and training staff at each Laboratory.” The DOE 2014 report to Congress notes, “The LDRD Program provides the laboratories with the opportunity and flexibility to establish and maintain an environment that encourages and supports creativity and innovation, and contributes to their long-term viability. LDRD allows the Department’s laboratories to position themselves to advance our national security mission and respond to our nation’s future research needs.”
LLNL director William Goldstein and deputy director for science and technology Patricia Falcone were responsible for the Livermore LDRD Program in 2017.
Execution of the Program was delegated to the senior advisor to the director, Rokaya Al-Ayat. The LDRD Program at Livermore complies fully with DOE Order 413.2C and relevant DOE orders and guidelines.